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Boys soccer/Scouting the Fox Valley

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  • Burlington Central's boys soccer team is hoping it can hoist another state trophy later this fall. The Rockets finished fourth in Class 2A last season.

      Burlington Central's boys soccer team is hoping it can hoist another state trophy later this fall. The Rockets finished fourth in Class 2A last season.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent

Bartlett Hawks

Coach: Ben Beary

2010 record: 14-7-4, 2-3-1 (4th UEC Valley)

Top returning players: Seniors Fabio Aiello (MF, 5 goals, 5 assists), Charlie Sordini (F, 4 goals, 3 assists), Tyler Lake (F, 3 goals, 4 assists), Joey Morgan (D, 2 goals, 2 assists)

Key newcomers: Seniors Anthony DiNuzzo (MF), Ramiro Arroyo (MF), Cristian Alva (GK)

Outlook: This current Bartlett senior group has enjoyed success throughout its high school tenure. "This current group distinguished themselves three years ago as the most successful freshman team in Bartlett history," said Beary. "As sophomores, the core of that freshman team contributed to our 15-win varsity season (more wins than any other Bartlett team). As juniors they helped lead us to our first regional title. As seniors, the core of that remarkable freshman team is poised to cement its legacy at Bartlett." Beary noted the team excels on its attacking side and has worked hard to improve the possession game and its attack. "Our possession game will set the tone and our attack will be potent," said Beary, who pointed to East Aurora as the team to beat on the Valley side.

Burlington Central Rockets

Coach: Mike Gecan

2010 record: 20-6-3, 9-1 (Big Northern Conference champions); fourth in Class 2A

Top returning players: Seniors Christopher Gousios (M-F, 21 goals, 7 assists), Omar Awad (D-M, 2 goals, 1 assist), Daniel Toth (D-M, 2 goals, 1 assist), Cole Dougherty (D-M, 1 goal, 3 assists), Cameron Leberecht (M-F, 3 assists), Ricardo Gomez (D-M, 1 assist), Johnny Reuter (D-M, 1 assists), Riley Jensen (GK, 74 saves), juniors Bryce Warner (D-M, 1 goal, 3 assists), Chris Rodriguez (M-F, 1 goal), Brad Herron (D-M), sophomores John "Paolo" Sespene (M-F, 7 goals, 7 assists), Matt O'Connor (M-F, 1 goal)

Key newcomers: Senior Aaron Blanco (D-F), juniors Drew McMahon (GK), Brady Weinrich (M-F), Moter Deng (M-F), Christian Moring (M-F), Brad Yarwood (D-M), Josh Lung (M-F), Ian Graffagna (M-F), sophomores Sean Fitzgerald (M-F), Austin VanAcker (D-M), freshman Alan Camarena (M-F).

Outlook: Gousios was a unanimous all-conference pick last year, while Warner was also an all-conference choice, with Jensen and Sespene earning honorable mention accolades. Experience and competitive practices have Gecan excited about this season. "Our program will continue on the journey for a state title, although we plan on taking it one day at a time," said Gecan. "It is a long season and we have several goals we would like to achieve along the way. By the end of the season, we hope to be prepared for another deep postseason run." Central will be challenged by Harvard and Marengo in the BNC East.

Cary-Grove Trojans

Coach: Mark Olson

2010 record: 15-3-1, 10-2 FVC (2nd place)

Top returning players: Seniors Tom Breen (GK), Dylan McDonough (GK), Erik Gustafson (D), Robby Perez (D), Mike Loke (MF), Aidan McCarthy (F), Eric Wilde (MF), Justin Lowe (D), Andy Matovina (D-MF), Nolan Walsh (MF), junior Mike McKune (MF).

Key newcomers: Seniors Brett Fotre' (MF), Drew Conner (MF), Zack Solarte (MF), Ziam Menzil (D), Erick Angeles (D-MF), junior Brian O'Connor (MF), sophomore Kevin Wilde (F).

Outlook: Breen, Gustafson and McKune are all returning all-conference players for the Trojans who were bolstered by the return of Conner, who played on the varsity as a sophomore and has committed to Wisconsin. "This group has played together quite a bit in the past," said Olson. "They pull for each other and push each other. They get along really well. The chemistry is going to be a huge factor for this team. They have the skills as well." Olson said the FVC will again feature tough competition. "Every year is a new year," he noted. "Doing well in the conference is always a goal. It's going to be tough again. You get one shot at every team. You have to make sure you are ready to play and capitalize on your chances."

Crystal Lake South Gators

Coach: Brian Allen

2010 record: 21-2-2, 12-0 (Fox Valley Conference champions)

Top returning players: Senior Charlie Oliver (F, 28 goals 11 assists), sophomore Same Murdock (MF, 5 goals, 3 assists)

Outlook: Oliver again headlines the Gators' roster. The senior forward was the 2010 honorary captain of the Daily Herald's All-Area boys' soccer team. The all-state selection had 28 goals and 11 assists last year and is 30 goals shy of the school record for career goals (82; held by Paul Lekics). South, a sectional semifinalist last year, have added senior midfielder Roberto Albuquerque, along with juniors Paul Conley (F), Jack Carlson (D) and Matt Alford (D), sophomore Steve Follmer (GK) and freshman Renato Albuquerque (F). The Gators possess skill on the attacking side of the ball -- something as good as Allen has seen this early in the season from one of his teams. "We're looking to find an identity as a team and build our team chemistry early on," he said. "Getting better each day at training and in games as well as maintaining an honest work rate is going to be imperative if we hope to compete once again for another conference and regional crown and perhaps more."

Dundee-Crown Chargers

Coach: Rey Vargas

2010 record: 13-8-2, 9-3 Fox Valley Conference

Top returning players: Seniors Luis Lopez (D), Alejandro Garcia (MF), Adolfo Sandoval (MF), Kyle Hagen (F-D), sophomore Eduardo Arellano (D)

Key newcomers: Seniors Anthony Mezza (MF), Ozvaldo Ramirez (MF), Eduardo Sanchez (MF), junior Christian Martinez (GK), sophomores Ben Stone (MF), Francisco (Nava (D).

Outlook: Hagan was an all-FVC selection and an all-sectional honorable mention pick last year. Strong senior leadership and a strong core returning from last year will aid the Chargers. "We look to continue what we started last year and hope to better our record," said Vargas. "We bring experience with returning players and the newcomers to the group will fill the void left by the seniors from last year. As a team we set our goals to improve upon last year's record and we hope to gain the edge needed to put us over the top in close games. As always, we set our eyes on winning conference and also advancing in the state tournament." Vargas feels the race in the new FVC Valley Division will be close. The FVC has gone to divisions. Each team plays the teams in its division and plays all the other teams in the other division in nonconference crossover contests.

Elgin Maroons

Coach: Dave Borg

2010 record: 7-13-1, 2-7 UEC River

Top returning players: Seniors Carlos Moreno (stopper), Erwin Hernandez (D), Edgar Montes (MF), Tony Benitz (GK), Sammy Escobar (F)

Key newcomers: Seniors Josue Chavez (F), Oscar Rodriguez (MF), freshmen Juan Flores (MF), Jose Chavez (F)

Outlook: Borg is impressed by his team's experienced and solid defense. The Maroons should be improved on the other side of the ball as well. "Our ability to put the ball in the net will be much improved," he said. "We expect to be in the top half of the conference. We hope to improve on last year and beat some teams we haven't in awhile." Borg listed Geneva, St. Charles North and Lake Park as top-tier contenders in the UEC River.

Elgin Academy Hilltoppers

Coach: Juan Silva

2010 record: 6-10, 2-3 Independent School League

Top returning players: Senior Tom Tunca (GK), junior Brandon Perez (6 goals, 3 assists), sophomore Jumel Julien (5 goals, 4 assists).

Key newcomers: Seniors Peter Ceko (MF), Leonardo Lira (MF)

Outlook: Silva takes over a Hilltoppers team that is loaded in the midfield. Perez, Ceko, Silva and Julien provide depth at that position. "They all possess great speed, excellent ballhandling and the ability to deliver a laser strike to our forwards as well as score from range," said Elgin Academy assistant coach Christian Schock. "Our offensive philosophy will be aggressive, utilizing our midfielders and our forwards in order to constantly attack the opposing team and dominating time of possession." Ceko is back after breaking his arm last season, while Lira is a Brazilian exchange student with plenty of soccer experience. "With coach Juan Silva bringing a more offense-oriented philosophy and having the athletes necessary to implement it, look for us to be a very aggressive, goal-scoring team. We feel the best defense is a good offense," said Schock, who feels the Hilltoppers will battle it out with the likes of University High, Francis Parker, Latin School and Morgan Park for the top positions in the ISL.

Larkin Royals

Coach: Ken Hall

2010 record: 18-7-1, 1-4-1 UEC River

Top returning players: Seniors Roberto Torres (MF), Jose Huertado (D), juniors Erik Rodriguez (F), Tony Hernandez (MF), Manny Aguilar (MF), Michel Gomez (MF)

Outlook: Larkin returns nine starters from last year's team that lost in penalty kicks in the sectional final to state champion Rockford Boylan. Rodriguez is a returning all-conference and all-area selection, while Hernandez earned all-conference accolades as well. "We expect to be much better than last year," said Hall.

Hampshire Whip-Purs

Coach: John Gosling

2010 record: 16-7-1, 8-2 Big Northern East (2nd place)

Top returning players: Seniors Ismael Morales (F), Jason Bishop (MF), Jared Butler (D), Andrew Obmalay (MF)

Key newcomers: Freshmen Jose Hernandez (F), Peter Panagakos (D)

Outlook: The Whip-Purs have ample firepower returning as they head into Fox Valley Conference Fox Division play for the first time. Morales, Bishop and Butler are three-year starters and returning all-conference players. Morales led the team in goals and total points last year, while Bishop was second in goals and first in assists. Gosling said two-year captain Butler is the "engine" on the team. Obmalay also is a two-year captain. "We have some great leadership from our four seniors," said Gosling. Hampshire's coach is looking forward to the FVC switch. "Moving from the Big Northern to the Fox Valley will be a very good challenge," said Gosling. "There will not be any easy games this year. On our side, Johnsburg will be tough. I think we could have a shot at it."

Harvest Christian Academy Lions

Coach: Jason Acres

2010 record: Did not compete as IHSA program.

Top players: Seniors Ryan Herman (F), James Glaub (MF-F), Connor Kearns (F), Andrew Hempel (CMF), Lewis Pareda (CMF), juniors Pat McGuire (D), Alex Reinhold (D), Stuart Wolff (D), sophomores Zach Harbaugh (OMF), Adam Salowitz (D)

Outlook: Harvest Christian, located on the west side of Elgin, is in its first year as an IHSA-sanctioned program. Harvest will join the Northeastern Athletic Conference (which includes Westminster Christian) next year. "We have never competed in IHSA so we don't necessarily know the competition," said Acres. "Our biggest strength is going to be understanding what level we need to be at in these games. The guys have to figure that out. They are working hard and putting in the proper training and it's paying off. Harvest opened the season with games against St. Edward, Westminster and Christian Liberty. "Those are all teams that did very well in their conferences," said Acres. "Everybody is getting better. There is a real willingness to work hard. The guys on the team are doing a great job of picking it up. Our goal is to go from being just a participatory program to guys playing 6-7 months out of the year and maybe all year round."

Huntley Red Raiders

Coach: Kris Grabner

2010 record: 10-11-1, 6-6 Fox Valley Conference

Top returning players: Seniors Sean Tlapek (D), Kareem Rassas (MF), Aleks Rys (D), Tim Sloma (D), juniors Lucas Baker (MF), David Langford (D), sophomores Niko Mihalopolous (F), Scott Dorvilier (F)

Key newcomers: Sophomores Eduardo Gonzalez (MF), David Pardo (F)

Outlook: Grabner likes the team's quickness and ability to possess the ball. "We will play patient soccer and look to string 10-15 passes together in our attack," he said. "I expect this team to be very patient." Grabner points to Cary-Grove and Crystal Lake South as two teams to watch for, in particular, in the FVC Valley. "(We) should compete well with the top teams in our conference," he said. Rassas is a returning all-FVC pick.

Jacobs Golden Eagles

Coach: AJ Cappello

2010 record: 18-5, 10-2 (2nd Fox Valley Conference)

Top returning players: Seniors Matt Tafflinger (D), Garrett Fales (MF), Erik Nava (M-D), Brad Cleveland (F), juniors Anthony Moscatello (F), Eric Soto (MF).

Key newcomers: Juniors Nick Matysek (GK), Blake Michel (D)

Outlook: Nava is a returning all-conference performer for the Golden Eagles. While young on paper, Jacobs does possess the needed talent to be competitive. "This is a young, fast group that put in a tremendous amount of time in the offseason," said Cappello. "They have driven and pushed each other over the last nine months. We are confident the work is going to pay off. We plan on competing for conference this season. We know our conference is very deep this season, but we feel that the offseason work we put in will pay off as the season rolls on." Cappello lists Crystal Lake South, Cary-Grove, Huntley and Dundee-Crown as teams to watch for in the FVC Valley. "I feel it is a wide-open race this year," he said.

Streamwood Sabres

Coach: Matt Polovin

2010 record: 4-15-3, 2-3-1, 4th place UEC River

Top returning players: Seniors Jose Resendiz (GK), Ivan Vivero (D), junior Alejandro Avalos (F), sophomores Christian Vences (MF), Nestor Ascencio (MF), Brandon Malpartida (F)

Key newcomers: Senior Andrew Perez (D), junior Ivan Rosales (MF), sophomore Nate Fisher (F), freshman Christan Balbino (D)

Outlook: A youthful Streamwood team has improved over the off-season. "With a young team (our goal) is to play hard in every game and never give up no matter what the score is and really improve with every training session and game," said Polovin. "They have worked very hard all summer." Streamwood started the season 1-1-1 (lost 1-0 to East Aurora, tied Metea Valley, 1-1, and defeated Downers North, 2-1). "I want the guys to keep getting better from there," said Polovin.

South Elgin Storm

Coach: John Uveges

2010 record: 9-7-3, 2-5 UEC Valley

Top returning players: Seniors Danny Fry (OMF), Bryan Irwin (F), Mike Kozielek (F), Bret Hildebrandt (D), Jarod Scheiler (GK), junior Alberto Bustamante (D)

Key newcomers: Uveges likes the way the team's defense is stacking up. "Our strength is we play a team defense style of play," said Uveges. "It's looking good right now. It showed when we beat Maine West (recently). Our other strength is our offense pushing through the midfield with our strikers."

Not responding to requests for information: St. Edward, Westminster Christian.

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